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Books in Brief: Parents Need to Eat, Too by Debbie Koenig

Books in Brief is a new column we're launching this week. Every week for a while I'll be working through the growing stack of excellent books on my desk and sharing a few brief thoughts on why you might like them. Each little post will follow the same basic format, which I hope will help you decide quickly and comfortably whether each book is right for you or someone in your life. 

Up this week: Parents Need to Eat, Too by award-winning food, health, and parenting writer Debbie Koenig.

Debbie Koenig Parents Need to Eat Too 780 _ Umami Girl

The takeaway

Parents Need to Eat, Too is a smart, witty, dare I say indispensable resource for parents clawing their way toward their “new normal” in the months after a baby is born. A great Mother’s Day or any-day gift for expecting and recently besieged…sorry, I mean blessed…parents.

The dirty details

Big batches, nap-time cooking, meals you can single-fist, and tips to turn recipes into baby food are just a few of the ridiculously practical ideas presented with compassion, humor, and clarity. The recipes are sophisticated enough to make you feel like a real adult (a rarity in the early days of parenthood), yet simple enough that you’d be able to cook them in a sleep-deprived state without burning down the house. (Hellooo, slow cooker!)

This is the opposite of a coffee table book. Soft cover, no glossy photo spreads to stress over keeping pristine, more than welcoming to errant splatters of diced tomatoes, raspberry jam, and breast milk. (No judgment!) When that baby starts learning to walk, you’ll probably have to ditch your coffee table and its sharp, suddenly hazardous corners, so you won’t have a place to put coffee table books anyway.

This book, though, you’ll always have a place for. On your actual cookbook stand in your actual kitchen, for example. And maybe sometimes under your pillow at night.

The lovely author

Debbie Koenig is a widely published freelance food writer and the voice behind the popular blog Words to Eat By. Along with her husband and their young son, she lives in Brooklyn — which, in the absolute best possible way, I swear you can tell from her writing. If I were you, I’d order the book on that basis alone.

You had me at...

Introducing a list of pantry nibbles to keep on hand for drop-in visitors, Debbie writes, “There’s something about having a new baby in the house that redefines gravity, with your home suddenly being at the center. Just when you wish people would most respect your privacy, your need to bond as a family, or even the notoriously unpredictable schedule you’re now living with, that’s when Aunt Judgy will ‘happen to be in the neighborhood.’” Take that, Aunt Judgy. And would you care for a whole-grain cracker with tapenade or other jarred spreads?

How to get it

For a chance to win a copy courtesy of publisher William Morrow, leave a comment on this post before May 25, 2012 at noon Eastern time that answers the following question: 

When you’re too exhausted for words, what’s your favorite meal (or, you know, conglomeration of slightly shameful foods) to order for delivery or drag out of the pantry? 


  1. Thanks, everyone. Comments are now closed. I’ll announce the winner soon!

  2. Catie

    Amy’s Spinach Pizza from whole foods (or more accurately, whole wallet)

  3. colorado mama


  4. Joanna

    My favorite thing to eat when I don’t feel like making anything is tortilla chips with shredded cheese on top, microwaved just long enough to melt the cheese.

  5. Peanut butter on a chopstick, for the minimalist. Or a salad, if I’m feeling healthy. Or a bag of chocolate chips, if I’m not. Or “pizza bread” for the kids. 😉

  6. Emily Briggs

    Tacos! Or, if I’m really short on time, a frozen pizza.

  7. with a traveling husband and two littles, i pop a bag of sweet potato waffle fries in the oven as i prepare them for bed. then, when all is quiet, the timer goes off and i put a huge lob of ketchup on the plate. i burn my fingers getting the fries off of the sheet and i indulge! tis a happy place. would LOVE to get my hands on that book!

  8. Joanna

    Nothing beats a PB&J and a scoop of ice cream!

  9. Liz

    We have what we call “silly dinner” where the kids pick what they want. They almost always pick pb&j!

  10. Does a glass of wine and a half a pint of Ben and Jerry’s count as a meal?

  11. Jalika

    When i’m able to eat something I grab salsa chips to hold me off

  12. linddsey

    Our standby is a frozen pizza. I try to “dress it up” a little bit by adding chicken, a sweet balsamic drizzle and goat cheese.

  13. Caren D.

    That would have to be a bowl of cereal 🙂 I love following ParentsNeedToEatToo blog

  14. Rachel

    Frozen meals are a life-saver. Or quick tacos made from a rotisserie chicken!

  15. lauren

    Airpopped popcorn with butter and salt. Pathetic but true.

  16. lauren

    Airpopped popcorn with butter and salt. Pathertic but true!

  17. hilary

    Breakfast for dinner is well-loved around here, or pasta carbonara if I’m in the mood for all that (delicious) fat.

  18. Meredith

    Cereal for dinner is always a winner, as is the whole-wheat tortilla quesadilla. And milk. If there’s some whole grain and a cup of milk, I feel like it’s not a total fail.

  19. Meghan

    Cereal or a poached egg– poached very poorly with the whites all stringy all over.

  20. Liisi

    When I’m tired I usually have some kind of breakfast for dinner – cereal / porridge / fruits. Something that doesn’t need much preparation yet fills the stomach and tastes good. But of course Chinese take away is pretty much always yummy:)

  21. Crystal king

    When I am exhausted, I rely on cereal for dinner. My kids love the idea and think it is such a fun and special treatM

Comments are closed.